RECAP: ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ Episode 3 Is Peak Soap Opera-Meets-Spy Thriller


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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This article contains spoilers from the third episode of “Special Ops: Lioness,” available on Paramount+

The third episode of “Special Ops: Lioness” dropped Sunday morning and it is a total reimagining of the spy drama genre.

If you can depend on showrunner Taylor Sheridan for anything, it’s to break, reshape and redefine the boxes built by mainstream Hollywood. And boy, has he done that with “Special Ops: Lioness.”

In episode three, we’re taken on a unique journey through Cruz’s (Laysla De Oliveria) operation and properly introduced to her mark, Aaliyah (Stephanie Buddenbrock), and her obnoxious fiancé and friends. One of the rudest of said friends is Kamal, played by Britney Spears’ husband, Sam Asghari.

And it turns out he’s a really great actor! While most of the storyline involving Asghari, Buddenbrock and their friendship group is fairly soap-opera-y, they’re the perfect set-up for the rest of the season.

In fact, most of episode three was far more of a set-up than a game-changer. Kaitlyn (Nicole Kidman) received an ominous warning from a colleague, and Joe (Zoe Saldana) dealt with drama back home (poorly, I might add), but we were not left without action.

The best B-line story of the episode was that of Joe’s team, the psychotically brilliant Special Forces-turned-CIA team of nutters who engage in an explosive smash-and-grab operation that gets way off the rails. At first I thought the scenes might have been slightly dramatized, but you never really know when it comes to men like this.

Either way, the whole episode set us up perfectly for the rest of the season. So much so that it’s still hard to know precisely where this thing is going. (RELATED: ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ Episode Two Is Violent, Terrifying, And Laugh-Out-Loud Funny)

Just like how Sheridan completely changed the game when it came to the western drama with his hit series, “Yellowstone,” or how he rewrote the book on organized crime thrillers with “Hell or High Water,” it’s my guess that most spy dramas that come after “Special Ops” just won’t be up to his standard.

Then again, how could they be? There’s no way anyone is getting the same kind of funding Sheridan has — which he more than deserves.